» Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:24 pm
Exhaustion dragged at him as he walked. But he would not let that show. Not if he could avoid it. If the younger children in the shed that a little over fifty of them slept in saw the older ones flagging, Borimod had little doubt that it would help them to see how hopeless life was, how much of a wasted effort it was in these times to survive.
No, he would have to stay strong, at least outwardly. Almost every one of them, possibly even every one looked up to him. Perhaps he would tell them, when he returned, of the peaceful times he could just remember before the horrors had come. The younger ones would hang onto his words, enrapt, as he spoke of vague times that escaped their memory, and for the ones that remembered, the ones as old as him, or within a few years of it, a reminder was almost always welcome. Perhaps I will speak of Lunt, the thought surprised him slightly; the stories he told about his brother were the most appreciated by the others, maybe because he could tell them with the most emotion and strength, but they were the most painful to him. The distant memories of times that had been perfect for him stabbed into him like icy knives, and knowing how Lunt was cut off from him, alive, but probably on the other side of the Ring of Isengard drove the blows deeper. He couldn't know how they were treating Lunt, weather he was hurt, ill, or worse as he feared, and could do nothing more to protect him than remain a thrall and hope they he wouldn't be killed.
As he dragged himself back into the lodging house, he resolved to speak of his mother instead. They enjoyed hearing about her also: the beautiful woman of the pastures of Rohan whose company every man seemed to enjoy. Every man except my father. He quashed the thought. Borimod didn't know more about who his father was, or why he had disappeared, now only present in some of the farthest reaches of his memory than anyone else, except maybe his mother. Though he had never had the chance to find it out from her. The fact remained that he had been gone long when Rohan had fallen.
He had been right that they would listen intently; they clung to every word as the tale took them to the fields of his home, to the peace, or relative peace, that they themselves had lost so early, or now missed so sorely. In truth the story was short, and about simple, everyday acts. Or what would then have been viewed as everyday. It had to be, for he wanted to keep the focus on the woman, and much that was momentous dwelt too much upon her sons. But to them all, even the teller, it seemed a shining haven, and as it drew to a close, they sighed. Many of them, even the youngest, would in a few minutes be working relentlessly for those they had hated for as long as they had understood what they were.
"What happened to her?" Breathed a young girl, perhaps Lunt's age. Borimod looked pityingly at her. She must have arrived recently, or she would already know and would not ask the question, or she would know enough not to want to know the answer.
"She died. All that land was destroyed, and she was murdered, after the battle had been lost and many of our fathers killed by those that keep us now. They destroyed the people of our countries, both Rohan and Gondor" - a few of them were children of the southern country, but most, like Borimod, were from Rohan - "and what was left they took. Our people fought, but no one will fight now. The men that are left, if indeed any are, are kept, like us, under fear and doubt. Fear is the tool of the Enemy and he uses it well.” He realised quickly how disheartening he sounded and added, though he didn’t believe it himself “Everyone is cowed by fear but that is no reason to give in. Perhaps one day, there will be reprieve.”
“The lady Eowyn does not fear them,” a boy of perhaps thirteen, probably one who had seen the lady’s desperate fighting a few years earlier, before she had been forced into the tower of Othanc, and not seen since.
“The lady has done nothing for more than three years. If she is alive she is as much a thrall as each of us. Though she cannot be condemned for it anymore than any one of you,” he deliberately said ‘you’ instead of ‘us’. He had known for long that he should act, but also that he couldn’t, that he wouldn’t, because it wouldn’t be just his own life that he was risking.
“Why do you not fight against them?” Borimod looked up in surprise: they all knew the reason as well as he did, and knew the guilt that was eating at him. Then he realised who had spoke, and why. The little girl blinked at him, the newer one who had asked about his mother.
“I have a brother, about your age perhaps. I would protect him with more than my life. He also is captive here, but I do not know where. If I fight, or escape, or act against the rule of Orthanc, I have no doubt he would be killed. Therefore I will not act, even if it means I am weak, or I refuse to fight for the freedom of myself and others,” He spoke shortly, his voice now holding no emotion, and would barely speak again, though he knew he should. The girl had not known, and it was not her fault that his brother was in a danger he couldn’t prevent.